When I attend blogging conferences I have a routine that includes spending a couple of hours a day alone in my hotel room. Why? Because if I don’t take a break from the mad crush of people and information and stimuli, I stop being nice. My inner jerk comes out in spades, and when it does? I can be, well, an incredible a**hole. Cooling my jets in my room alone allows me to contain my tendency to snark and to have an open heart instead.
The blogosphere is rife with snark, and with good reason. It’s funny. Snark can be the most entertaining thing in the world – I know that’s part of why it comes so easily to me when I’m in big crowds; it makes being mildly uncomfortable turn from awkward to amusing.
But sometimes that comes with a price.
It was with this awareness about the penalties of snark that I read this fascinating article at Life Hacker talking about how snark kills off productivity – and if there is one common thread among all bloggers, it’s the frustrations of trying to do it all and be productive in the process.
To be fair, it’s natural to be a bit of a jerk in your own head. Unfortunately, every day we see examples of snark and rudeness as the natural response to even the most innocuous irritants. Over time however, that snark erodes our relationships and makes it difficult for us to interact with others, but it also closes our minds to people who are different than we are, shuts us off from new ideas, and redirects energy better used improving our lives and doing our jobs towards being mean to others.
Worse than damaging productivity is the fact that cynicism can even go so far as to damage democracy, according to research in a Guardian article linked out by the Life Hacker piece.
…because politicians have a public face, making them more prone to criticism than faceless businessmen. The consequences of such cynicism are vast, the team believes. It can result in people disengaging from politics, turning away from major media, or boycotting products. It could also prompt people to join pressure groups or, in more extreme cases, to resort to direct action or violence.
But snark is the also at the heart of the internet and fuels the fires of many of us. It’s unlikely that we can ever create a snark-free blogosphere – and I’m not sure I even want that; do you? Lord knows I like to tweet out the snark personally. I’ll admit, though, I do so when I’m frustrated more often than not, so that is definitely something to consider (my poor mother often takes the brunt of my snark on Twitter thanks to the frustrations of living as a blended family).
I’m not sure it hurts my productivity, however. What do you think? Does snarkiness hurt your productivity?